Which degree to pursue?

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BradJ
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Which degree to pursue?

Post by BradJ » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:16 am

Greetings,

Good morning everyone, I hope all is well. I am considering going back to school to earn degree in either industrial engineering or operational management, I have a passion for optimizing processes and critical businesses (rail, utilities, logistics, etc.). I currently have a regular business degree, a MBA, and certificates that are respected in the utility industry (not to mention 11 years experience in utilities). My fear is that if I get a MS in Operational Management I will be covering the same ground I did with the MBA. Would a hiring manager see it that way? Would having too many degrees be viewed negatively?

KlangFool
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by KlangFool » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:23 am

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:16 am
Greetings,

Good morning everyone, I hope all is well. I am considering going back to school to earn degree in either industrial engineering or operational management, I have a passion for optimizing processes and critical businesses (rail, utilities, logistics, etc.). I currently have a regular business degree, a MBA, and certificates that are respected in the utility industry (not to mention 11 years experience in utilities). My fear is that if I get a MS in Operational Management I will be covering the same ground I did with the MBA. Would a hiring manager see it that way? Would having too many degrees be viewed negatively?
BradJ,

1) In order for anyone to give you advice, they need to know what is your goal in getting this degree?

<<I have a passion for optimizing processes and critical businesses (rail, utilities, logistics, etc.). >>

2) In my personal opinion, it is more advantageous for you to take some courses in IoT, data science, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence. You could do that via coursera or edX.

3) I am not sure that either degree will expand your horizons.

KlangFool

Valuethinker
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:35 am

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:16 am
Greetings,

Good morning everyone, I hope all is well. I am considering going back to school to earn degree in either industrial engineering or operational management, I have a passion for optimizing processes and critical businesses (rail, utilities, logistics, etc.). I currently have a regular business degree, a MBA, and certificates that are respected in the utility industry (not to mention 11 years experience in utilities). My fear is that if I get a MS in Operational Management I will be covering the same ground I did with the MBA. Would a hiring manager see it that way? Would having too many degrees be viewed negatively?
To be honest both sound redundant.

Is there a professional certification you could get in the field, instead?

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:40 am

Optimizing processes?

Six sigma courses. The 1 week course I took focused on this. I had taken a 2 week course years ago and it had a somewhat different focus.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

BradJ
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by BradJ » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:40 am
Optimizing processes?

Six sigma courses. The 1 week course I took focused on this. I had taken a 2 week course years ago and it had a somewhat different focus.
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.

mlz
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by mlz » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:49 am

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:16 am
Would having too many degrees be viewed negatively?
Potentially relevant story: My dad loved school, and collected many degrees. After several years of working as an engineer, he went to law school to get a JD to become a lawyer. Then some years later, he decided to get an LLM, which is an advanced law degree (it stands for "master of laws". Oddly enough, in the law field you get a doctorate first, then a masters). Then he got an MBA. At some point, he started work on a second LLM degree.

Somewhere along the way, he applied to a PhD program in economics. He was rejected. He called up the admissions people to ask why. I forget the exact phrasing, but the supposed reason was something about being a "career student". Now, I think there were multiple reasons for him not to get accepted and they were just looking for a friendly explanation, but I imaging the many degrees played a role in the decision.

Of course, industry will view things differently than an academic institution, but the point is that people can indeed view having many degrees negatively. I also remember reading stories of people with triple majors in college having trouble finding a job, because it appeared they lacked focus in any one area.


Not saying you shouldn't do it. I think it really depends on what you are hoping to get out of it. Do you need the credential to advance? If so, then you probably don't have much of a choice. If it is mostly about signaling expertise, there are probably less expensive and less time consuming options out there. Perhaps as others have suggested look into online courses or short certificate programs?

diy60
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by diy60 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:59 am

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:40 am
Optimizing processes?

Six sigma courses. The 1 week course I took focused on this. I had taken a 2 week course years ago and it had a somewhat different focus.
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.
Six Sigma and other related process improvement programs have been around for years, but I think the interest level comes in waves. My former MegaCorp employer had a whole group of people dedicated to the program, rolling out related activities and projects to manufacturing sites globally, and training teams at the local site level. You could pursue greenbelt, blackbelt, and master blackbelt levels. My observation with time spent in many of the smaller manufacturing companies seemed to be the smaller companies were at various levels of six sigma sophistication.

GAAP
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by GAAP » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.
I wouldn't go to school to learn things I didn't want to do -- life is way too short for that...

adamthesmythe
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:11 am

mlz wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:49 am
BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:16 am
Would having too many degrees be viewed negatively?
Somewhere along the way, he applied to a PhD program in economics. He was rejected. He called up the admissions people to ask why. I forget the exact phrasing, but the supposed reason was something about being a "career student". Now, I think there were multiple reasons for him not to get accepted and they were just looking for a friendly explanation, but I imaging the many degrees played a role in the decision.
I have declined Ph.D. applicants who already had a doctorate in a different field for pretty much that reason.

At some point, usually after you have been working a while, the credential doesn't matter as much as the experience.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:17 am

Some of the most valuable degrees in the foreseeable future are in statistics and data science. Do not limit yourself to Six Sigmas. Six Sigma, by definition, is about Normal distributions, whereas the world is ruled by fat tails.

Victoria
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:18 am

diy60 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:59 am

Six Sigma and other related process improvement programs have been around for years, but I think the interest level comes in waves. My former MegaCorp employer had a whole group of people dedicated to the program, rolling out related activities and projects to manufacturing sites globally, and training teams at the local site level. You could pursue greenbelt, blackbelt, and master blackbelt levels. My observation with time spent in many of the smaller manufacturing companies seemed to be the smaller companies were at various levels of six sigma sophistication.
Yes, the week long course I took was at my employer who had adopted the belt system. I sat and listened and learned about repetitive test steps in the process which needlessly increased cost and test time for no gain. I also somewhat laughed to myself as the 6 sigma "black belt" taught. I hold a black belt in karate, so was prepared to battle with him at any moment. :D

My first 2 week course taught at another megacorp (who no longer exists) instilled a couple things. If you need to meet 10% tolerance in a design, do your design to meet a smaller tolerance.....5% or 1%.

The second thing was to not rush things out the door before testing is complete. The example was Ford Escort vs Toyota Corolla. Ford rushed their car out and had problems that never went away. In all the years Ford sold the car, when it finally ended, the company didn't make a dime on the model. Corolla held their car back for a year, testing, tweeking and fixing it. They made boatloads of money over the same period.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

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mhadden1
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by mhadden1 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:45 am

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering ...
As someone else noticed - this seems to stand out.
Oh I can't, can I? That's what they said to Thomas Edison, mighty inventor, Thomas Lindberg, mighty flyer,and Thomas Shefsky, mighty like a rose.

mrgeeze
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by mrgeeze » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:14 am

GAAP wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am
BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.
I wouldn't go to school to learn things I didn't want to do -- life is way too short for that...

+1

You have enough education.
I may be reading between the lines but you don't sound satisfied on your current career/employment.
Change one or the other or both.
The change may or may not require education

BradJ
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by BradJ » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:57 pm

mrgeeze wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:14 am
GAAP wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am
BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.
I wouldn't go to school to learn things I didn't want to do -- life is way too short for that...

+1

You have enough education.
I may be reading between the lines but you don't sound satisfied on your current career/employment.
Change one or the other or both.
The change may or may not require education
You are correct, my employer is great, my job is a bore. I took a risk 2 years ago by leaving a company where I was moving up fast, but had terrible leaders and working 50-60 hours of work. Now I work straight 40 at a slower pace job that is really not “respected” in my field. I do relational base work with utilities, more soft skills than technical (which my old job was).

carolinaman
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by carolinaman » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:44 am

mrgeeze wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:14 am
GAAP wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am
BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.
I wouldn't go to school to learn things I didn't want to do -- life is way too short for that...

+1

You have enough education.
I may be reading between the lines but you don't sound satisfied on your current career/employment.
Change one or the other or both.
The change may or may not require education
+1. I totally agree that you have enough formal education.

"I have a passion for optimizing processes and critical businesses (rail, utilities, logistics, etc.)."

There is good demand for jobs doing what you describe as your passion. You may be able to take some courses, such as Six Sigma, that focus on this but real world experience is what you need, not more academia. Do some research to determine what jobs and pay are like in this field and what companies would be prospective places to work, including your present company. If you cannot do this at your present company, then find companies that will hire you. You may have to take a temporary pay cut to do so, but that would be better than going back to school for yet another degree.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:42 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:11 am
At some point, usually after you have been working a while, the credential doesn't matter as much as the experience.
Can't emphasize enough how accurate this is!
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

stoptothink
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:49 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:42 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:11 am
At some point, usually after you have been working a while, the credential doesn't matter as much as the experience.
Can't emphasize enough how accurate this is!
+2. We've had such bad experiences hiring highly educated (science PhDs) with little work experience that we won't even interview them anymore. You need that baseline degree, but after that, experience is everything. It's a tough pill to swallow for applicants for positions in my department when they are told that their extra 3-8yrs of education (above the applicant with just an undergrad) has zero value to me. The extra degrees may give you a higher ceiling or help you move up faster; if you produce.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:15 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:49 am
BolderBoy wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:42 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:11 am
At some point, usually after you have been working a while, the credential doesn't matter as much as the experience.
Can't emphasize enough how accurate this is!
+2. We've had such bad experiences hiring highly educated (science PhDs) with little work experience that we won't even interview them anymore. You need that baseline degree, but after that, experience is everything. It's a tough pill to swallow for applicants for positions in my department when they are told that their extra 3-8yrs of education (above the applicant with just an undergrad) has zero value to me. The extra degrees may give you a higher ceiling or help you move up faster; if you produce.
I had a BiL who was a Wall Street bond broker from 1968-19x, then retired with his millions. He worked for several of the really big name houses of the day. He rose to be the managing director of the bond department in most settings despite not having a college degree while virtually everyone he supervised had MBA & PhD degrees. Pretty impossible to repeat that today, but in his time, experience was absolutely king. And he was good at it.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

nymeria.stark
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Re: Which degree to pursue?

Post by nymeria.stark » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:10 pm

BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:57 pm
mrgeeze wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:14 am
GAAP wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am
BradJ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am
Six Sigma has always interested me, but I was unsure if was still considered a respectable certification. To be honest, I really do not want to do engineering, but I understand that it is highly respected in my industry.
I wouldn't go to school to learn things I didn't want to do -- life is way too short for that...

+1

You have enough education.
I may be reading between the lines but you don't sound satisfied on your current career/employment.
Change one or the other or both.
The change may or may not require education
You are correct, my employer is great, my job is a bore. I took a risk 2 years ago by leaving a company where I was moving up fast, but had terrible leaders and working 50-60 hours of work. Now I work straight 40 at a slower pace job that is really not “respected” in my field. I do relational base work with utilities, more soft skills than technical (which my old job was).
*waves* Fellow soft skills utility-focused engineering firm employee here! Six Sigma still seems to be respected, but what about a P.M.P.? That seems to be what we're pushing the Corp Ops folks to do more often.

In any case, degrees in our industry only seem to matter if they're directly related to the work you want to do (going back to school and getting a certificate in supply chain management if you're in procurement, getting an MBA in marketing if you're in PR, that sort of thing). Otherwise, it's about experience in the field.

If you love your employer, would you feel comfortable going to your boss and asking her what you can do to gain more experience in process optimization, or what you can do to expand your current role so you're not so bored? Drill down on what you want to do and what actually interests you, and ask how you can get there, rather than hoping a degree will help.

It doesn't sound like this is an issue that can be solved by more education, but that's my 2c. The only people I know in the utility sector who went back to school to get engineering degrees got them because--gasp!--they wanted to make a career change and become engineers. It's a lot of money and a lot of time and effort to commit to something you don't really want and might not be relevant.
Just a girl, standing in front of her finances, asking them to make more sense.

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